|My during-op hardware x-rays|
Today is October 16th....it's been nine months since I had two of my vertebra fused. It's been a hell of a ride, and it's not done. The true baseline impact of this surgery won't be really known until the 1-1.5 year mark.
There are some things that are going really well. I have dance back in my life, even though I have to modify the hell out of it sometimes (I cannot drive any movements with my glutes, which is pretty darn difficult). My nerve pain is down thanks to an upped dose of nortriptyline (an antidepressant that calms nerve pain for some people), so I don't get muscle spasms nearly as often and I don't feel like I'm being stabbed in the legs constantly.
I'm frustrated that I still can't walk for more than ten minutes....even though I can sometimes dance for 2 hours. I have a feeling that this is related to the glute issue that causes nerve pain, as my personal post-op dance posture requires a pretty intense tuck in my pelvis and it's extremely hard for me to walk like that. I'm not frustrated by my need to sometimes use a wheelchair though....the freedom that it has given me on bad days and the pain it has saved me on not-so-bad days has been a relief. It's also given me a chance to be speedy and playful, makes me feel strong when my muscles ache from pushing a good distance (like at Gen Con or at the Mall of America). The upright dancer but sometimes wheeler status feels weird and gets me some odd looks sometimes, but it's a balancing game that I play to keep my passion moving.
Also, I'm frustrated by my continued need for narcotic pain medication. Really really frustrated. These medications make it hard for me to function as a scholar and make me continually question my career path. To be semi-functional in life (to dance, to work, to game, to be a student), requires me to take them....and to continually fight breakthrough pain and the brain fog that comes with them. Sometimes I wonder if the benefit of taking them is worth it, but I really feel like I have no option. The "option" would be to quit everything and try to get in the Social Security Disability system....but I would rather avoid the enforced poverty, the constant fear of paying my bills, and wondering if I can ever have a life worth living with the incredibly low income cap.
I really have to look back at the past year to realize that I'm doing better, even though I realize that I'm really at the same point a year and a half ago, wondering if I should have surgery. Even though I'm better, my spine feels like a ticking time bomb right now, just waiting for the next joint up to fail. I'm just trying to do what I can with what I have at this point....and remind myself that at least I have dance back in my life because of the fusion!